The Academy Opens Film Award Season With 9th Annual Governors Awards

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Photo Source: Donald Sutherland: Denis Makarenko /

In their illustrious 9th iteration, the Governors Awards took place Nov. 10 in Los Angeles. Widely regarded as the kick-off of film awards season, the A-list-attended black-tie dinner was held at the Hollywood and Highland Center’s historic Ray Dolby Ballroom and presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

One of five award ceremonies hosted by AMPAS (along with the Academy Scientific and Technical Awards, Academy Student Academy Awards, Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, and the Oscars themselves), the Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony is considered an important opportunity for the season’s Oscar hopefuls to get face time with members of the Academy in hopes of garnering their votes.

Of the 2017 event, Academy president John Bailey, newly appointed in October, said: “This year’s Governors Awards reflect the breadth of international, independent and mainstream filmmaking, and are tributes to four great artists whose work embodies the diversity of our shared humanity.”

Your Definitive 2017–18 Film Awards Calendar

This year’s ceremony honored writer-director Charles Burnett (“Killer of the Sheep”), cinematographer Owen Roizman (“The Exorcist”), director Agnès Varda (“La Pointe Courte”), and actor Donald Sutherland (“Ordinary People,” “The Hunger Games”). Voted upon at the discretion of the Academy’s Board of Governors and given to veteran Hollywood creatives—typically those, like this year’s honorees, who have never taken home a competitive Oscar statue—the Governors Awards are incorporated as highlights into the Academy Awards ceremony.

A distinctive honor was also given to Oscar-winning director Alejandro Iñárritu, whose “CARNE y ARENA (Virtually Present, Physically Invisible)”’ is a virtual reality installation currently on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The special Oscar was awarded by the Academy “in recognition of a visionary and powerful experience in storytelling” for the multimedia art piece which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and simulates the experience of migrants crossing through the American Southwest.

Past Governors Awards honorees include Elia Kazan, Jackie Chan, Bob Hope, and last year’s Lynn Stalmaster, the first casting director to receive an Oscar statue.

The 90th Academy Awards will take place March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. AMPAS will honor the best films of 2017 in a ceremony hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. Nominations will be announced Jan. 23. For more on the Oscars, check out Backstage’s awards coverage!

Check out Backstage’s film audition listings!